Sometimes we can get super excited by a fighter at a young age after they win what feels like a break out fight. When they come from a country lacking boxing stars it can be easy to get too excited too quickly. Sadly that's what happened in 2015 with an Indonesian fighter. Despite the fact things didn't work out as hoped the fight that made him such an exciting prospect was a sensational fight away in Thailand. Today we are going to look at that bout in our latest "Closet Classic".
Petchchorhae Kokietgym (13-0, 8) vs Iwan Zoda (6-1, 5) II
In October 2014 Thailand's Petchchorhae Kokietgym took a 6 round decision over the very young Iwan Zoda. The bout was Zoda's second as a professional and Petchchorhae's eighth. Despite winning the bout Petchchorhae really seemed to be outshone by the then 18 year old Zoda. Almost a year later the two men clashed once again.
In between the two bouts Petchchorhae had reeled off 5 more wins, picking up a minor WBC title along the way. He hwadn't really stepped up his competition during that time but had been busy and getting some in ring experience whilst also getting a chance to physically match a bit. He slowly, but surely, starting to create some momentum in Thailand, and was becoming a regular on the Kokiet promoted events through Thailand.
Of course Petchchorhae wasn't the only one who had been busy and Zoda had also reeled off 5 wins since losing to Petchchorhae. As with the Thai Zoda had been fighting low level opponents at home, getting some ring time and physically maturing. So much so that his team seemed confident when they landed a rematch with the Thai just 11 months after their first clash.
This time around it wasn't just a rematch, there was more at steak than just price. The winner would also become the "interim" WBO Asia Pacific Flyweight champion, taking them a huge step towards a much bigger bout.
The opening round saw the two men getting to know each other and looking to establish their distance and tempo. This was clearly round 1 of fight #2 and now round 7 of their rivalry. Petchchorhae was looking to make the most of his southpaw stance and control the ring with his jab, whislt Zoda showed surprising patience and composure for an 18 year old on away soil.
By the end of the first round the tempo had began to increase, with Petchchorhae finding confidence in his straight left hand and Zoda starting to get more comfortable in the ring. From there on the bout seemed to begin to quickly warm into something a bit special.
Round 2 saw the action increase notably with Zoda taking the fight to Petchchorhae much more often than he had in the opening round. He was forcing the Thai back and making Petchchorhae pick his spots much more carefully. Round 3 saw the tempo increase again as Zoda's confidence and aggression picked up, despite the fact the teenager ate some huge counter shots as his defensive flaws were punished. At the end of the round the momentum seemed to shift in favour of Petchchorhae, who was hammering Zoda at the bell.
Within just 3 rounds we had seen several major shifts in momentum, and they wouldn't stop there!
Zoda looked to regain control at the start of round 4, something he struggled to do as Petchchorhae forced him on to the ropes. Despite being backed up Zoda landed some brilliant body shots, and showed real toughness when he was caught clean by some very solid blows. By the end of the round Petchchorhae was on his toes, likely realising that a toe-to-toe was wasn't going to be a bright idea. The Thai remained on the move in round 5, though was using a lot of energy, and being caught by some heavy leather from the Indonesian teenager.
From here on the bout just got better and better. It always looked like Petchchorhae was the better athlete, the more correctly trained fighter and the smarter boxer. Zoda however was looking like a super strong and incredibly determined fighter, unwilling to accept another loss to the Thai.
Zoda had an excellent round 6, as his pressure began to tell, but Petchchorhae some how stood up through it, saw out the round before firing back in the second half of a brutal round 7, by which point Zoda was starting to slow down himself.
Although neither man was a technical genius, and this is certainly not boxing chess, they put on an all thriller that got better and better as it went on. For two youngsters so early in their career they went on to give us a truly sensational bout and one that really did swing back and forth. This also had the added twist of being in Thailand, where judges are notoriously harsh on the visitors and where funny business could be seen with officials and time keepers.
Sit back and enjoy a true closet classic!
It's been a few bad weeks for Thai boxing with several fighters suffering unexpected stoppage losses. There was another of those today with Indonesian youngster Iwan Zoda (7-1, 6) claiming the biggest win of his career, and picking up a WBO Pan-Pacific title with a stoppage win over Petchchorhae Kokietgym (13-1, 8). The question now needs to be asked, is Thai boxing going through a crisis, or is it just a coincidence that two previously unbeaten fighters, a highly ranked world contender and fringe contender were all beaten in the space of just a few weeks.
In the past we have bemoaned the quality of match making in Thailand. The country airs cards pretty much weekly but all too often the shows are predictable mismatches that resemble boxing's equivalent to "squash matches" found in professional wrestling. The recent run may well be a wake up call to those in Thai boxing, who have padded the records of many fighters over the years rather than really getting them to develop the skills. It may also serve as a wake up call to visitors who will have seen these results and be encouraged to fight to win rather than go into "journeyman mentality".
The best thing it could do for Thai boxing is force the match makers to change their attitude to the sport. These may be hits to their contenders and prospects but it'll serve them well and show what they need to work on in the future. Hopefully it will also lead to better match ups for their genuine contenders, such as Suriyan Sor Rungvisai who has been force fed a steady stream of weak opposition since losing to Shinsuke Yamanaka last year. Guys like Suriyan would develop much better from Nakornloung bringing in solid fighters and hopefully that will happen in the future.
The current run is unlikely to continue much longer but we've got to admit that we've enjoyed seeing fighters travel and fight to win and hopefully that will continue, win or lose. Boxing needs fighters coming to fight not just coming to make up the numbers, as fighters like Domi Nenokeba, Samuel Tehuayo, Boido Simanjuntak and Johan Wahyudi have done in recent years. Bouts with those guys have served little purpose to the men other than to notch up an easy win against an opponent unwilling to give a fight to the home guy.
All videos courtesy of the brilliant tko.in.th
*Pigmy was #5 ranked by the IBF who had the #1 and #2 spots vacant
**We did consider including Espinos Sabu's draw against Inthanon Sithchamuang on August 11th, despite the fact Sabu only got a draw. The reality however is that Sabu is another fighter who comes to win and gets our utmost respect for his attempts in the ring.
When we have some free time we're hoping to add a series of fun articles to the site. Hopefully these will be enjoyable little short features